Subtitling I: Documentaries and Non-fiction genres

Credit points: 3
Contact hours: 60
Type: Seminar Classes

Course Description

Objectives and competences

  1. -  to develop students’ ability to analyse a polysemiotic text;
  2. -  to develop the ability to form subtitles following dialogue, video and speech rhythm;
  3. - to develop the ability to condense information and to master parameters governing the selection of condensation techniques;
  4. - to develop the ability to translate language variety combining features of written and spoken language;
  5. - to develop the technical skills of subtitling, including the use of software and specific subtitling equipment;
  6. - to develop the ability to understand the parameters influencing the perception of subtitles;
  7. - to develop the ability of selecting the appropriate subtitling strategy dependent on the genre and the intended audience.

Content (Syllabus outline)

The seminar work is based on analysing subtitled clips of a wide diversity of non-fiction genres, news programmes, programmes on national and international current affairs, which involve a variety subtitling features. In addition, the work consists of subtitling assignments with group analysis and evaluation.

Seminar topics: subtitling procedure – translational and technical aspects – subtitle form – text formation: intra- and intersegmentation in subtitles, subtitle exchange rhythm and division of dialogue into subtitling units, condensation techniques  with fast speech rate, spoken language features, features of pre-pared and improptu speech,  language used in subtitles as a special type of intersemiotic transfer – translation of informal speech, dialects, slang – translation of culture-specific expressions in subtitles – comparison of subtitling techniques applied in non-fiction and fiction films – subtitling with given time codes – combination of subtitling and read narration – additional on-screen processing


  1. 1.  Ivarsson, Jan, in Mary Carroll (1998) Subtitling. Simrishamm: TransEdit.
  2. 2.  Gambier, Yves, ur. (1998) Translating for the media. Turku: Painosalama OY.
  3. 3.  Kovačič, Irena (1990) Subtitling and contemporary linguistic theories. V: Jovanović, Miodrag, ur.: Translation, a Creative Profession. Beograd: Prevodilac. 407-417.
  4. 4.  Kovačič, Irena (1996) Subtitling strategies : a flexible hierarchy of priorities. V: Heiss, Christine, in Rosa Maria Bollettieri Bosinelli (ur.): Traduzione multimediale per il  cinema, la televisione e la scena. Bologna:  CLUEB. 297-305.
  5. 5.  Kovačič, Irena (1998) Six subtitlers – six subtitling texts. V: Bowker, Lynne, in sod.  (ur.): Unity in diversity? Current trends in translation studies. Manchester: St.  Jerome. 75-82. 


  1. Registration in the first year of the MA programme in Translation.


  1. The final grade consists of:
  • continuous assessment of subtitling assignments and analyses (40 % of the final grade);
  • a final examination in which students are required to subtitle a 10-minute film clip and provide a discussion (60 % of the final grade).